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  #796  
Old 12-24-2018, 01:39 PM
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I donít know if they have noticed Hanna is missing yet. Since all the stuff with Haven and Finn happened right after she disappeared. And Ansell hasnít even made it back to the Dai Li yet. So maybe after he gets back there, they all notice Hanna is missing and he blows his cover to free her and Tori helps.
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  #797  
Old 12-28-2018, 09:52 PM
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Nice post, Night! Yeah, I also don't think anyone has noticed Hanna was missing yet, since it's only been a few hours. I'll post tomorrow, hopefully!

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.
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Old 01-02-2019, 10:51 AM
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I feel like this definitely needs a second and maybe third draft but I've waited too long to post something so I'm just going to post this. It's... adequate lol.



I didn't leave the room where everyone had regrouped after the battle, even after the crowd had dispersed. Tonight's surprise fight with the Dai Li had me worn out but nothing made me feel worse than seeing all of the injured Gifted and Clann members being taken to the infirmary. I wanted so desperately to help all of them but there was nothing else I could do at that point. It made all of our fighting seem pointless. I joined the Clann to help prevent Gifted from getting hurt by the Dai Li. Yet that is exactly what happened to them tonight. Even though we won the battle, I still can't help but feel like we lost. But that's just the price of war, isn't it? The people you swear to protect eventually get hurt. It's unavoidable. You can't protect everyone, even if you try with all your might. You'd think I'd remember that by now, but no. Young, naÔve, optimistic Ezra… I just can't seem to remember it.

Maybe it would all be easier if I was Gifted?

It was a thought I've had many times before while working with the Clann. The idea of having these awesome powers that you could use to help anyone in trouble - it sounded thrilling yet ultimately unattainable for me. Even with all the training we go through, no matter how strong we seem to get, nothing can compare to the strength and power of the Gifted. It was inspiring most of the time, but other times it just made you feel weak and helpless. I know they never tried to make us feel that way, heck I don't even think they're aware of it but it happens regardless. Maybe it's just me, though. It's not like I talk to any of the other Clann members about this, other than Ansell. We rarely get time to have conversations like that these days though, with him at the Dai Li and myself doing my usual Clann duties. He's the only one who understands me, or at least is really good at acting like he does. Everyone else has more important things to worry about than my own insecurities. Ansell has said before that it might benefit me to talk with a professional about these things but I don't feel l need to. It's not like it affects me when I'm off-duty and trying to relax. Granted, I rarely have time for to relax these days. I suppose when we're dealing with so much Dai Li activity those thoughts kind of get to me. But who cares. It doesn't affect my work in any way either. I can still get things done. So, there's no need to talk to anyone else. I'll just continue to keep my thoughts to myself. It's better that way.

After sitting and wallowing in my thoughts for who knows how long, I finally stood up. The room was completely silent. The rest of the base was quieter than usual too. You could hear the murmured sound of Clann agents having conversations, probably about topics they didn't want any other high-ranking Clann members to hear. Whenever I'd walk by, they'd immediately stop talking. Probably because I'm so close to Talia, Nyna and the Council. I'm honestly used to this kind of treatment by now. Once you start getting into the upper ranks of the Clann, you start to lose that "close-knit family" vibe. The newer agents stay together while some of us more experienced agents are too busy with our missions to even think about having a special group of friends. I was lucky enough to have Ansell as my only real friend here. He was honestly all I ever really needed. One good friend is enough for me. Still, there were days where I wondered what it'd be like to be in a large group of friends. Sometimes it seemed like it'd it be nice to have more than one person to rely on. More than one person to tell jokes with and hang out with. It seems... nice?

I thought Tori would be that… rather, more than that. But it looks like, once again, I was wrong. I should've stopped trying to court her sooner. I never wanted to make her feel uncomfortable. Man, I wish would've gotten a chance to apologize to her before she left. I doubt I'll ever see her again now. I hope she can forgive me for how I acted around her.

Later in my quarters as I lay on my bed, my thoughts start to drift toward my family for some reason. I grew up with my parents up north in the snowy town of Uthirion. A place more populated than Telenoria, but certainly smaller than the Capital. We were a middle class family living in a middle-class town. We didn't have to worry much about when we were going to get food and where it came from. Life was honestly fine. Nothing special about it. My mother and father both worked at a nearby inn that they owned. Dad did the cooking while Mom ran the front of the house. My younger sister, Daela and I would often show guests to their room or serve food to them. It was really fun! We didn't have many complaints about our life. We were perfectly content with everything.
Uthirion wasn't home to many Gifted, but it was very accepting of them. There was an old Gifted woman who would come into town occasionally bringing lots of fun toys and other things for the children of Uthirion. Everyone in town loved her. Whenever she stopped by, there would always be a huge party held in her honor. I remember one time at a party, the old woman (whose real name nobody knew but we all called her Gjol'Baerdh, which meant Gift Bearer) gave my sister and I each a necklace that had half of a pendant on each one. When we put the two pendant halves together, a glowing image of a deer appeared, which was Daela and I's favorite animal.

Daela had a special connection to Gjol'Baerdh, a connection that no one really understood. Not even my parents or even myself. We'd often catch Daela walking along side the old woman, listening to her tell grandiose stories full of fantastic creatures and epic battles. Most of the stories she told seemed like works of fiction, yet there were a few that sounded like they a had a bit of truth in them. Daela loved listening to those stories. She had such a wild imagination just like Gjol'Baerdh. We thought that was the extent of their connection, but we were shortly proven wrong when we found out that little seven-year-old Daela was also Gifted. She was blessed with abilities of teleportation and levitation. Everyone in Uthirion celebrated this news, especially since Daela was the youngest Gifted in town (which was a surprise and a gift all on it's own since most Gifted don't usually discover their powers until they're a bit older). She was treated like a queen that night when a party was held in her honor and that carried on over to our day-to-day life. People paid more attention to her now. They talked to her more, gave her more gifts both on her birthday and just on random days. She had a lot of other kids trying to be her friend. I'm ashamed to say, I began to feel a bit jealous of her. Life with Daela changed drastically for me and I didn't like it. There were many times I wished I was Gifted so I could experience the same kind of treatment she got. Other times I wished Daela wasn't Gifted at all so we could just go back to the way to the way things were between us. I never told Daela that, though. I didn't even tell Mom and Dad. How could I? They'd be so disappointed in their older son acting so childish and I hated disappointed my family. So, I kept my mouth shut. As time went on, Daela powers grew and my jealousy very slowly faded away, though our relationship was never the same. We didn't play together like we used. She had her own friends and I had… no one. Business at the inn was better than ever though, thanks to Daela who'd fly around serving food and such. While people were cheering her on, I'd be stuck cleaning or showing guests to their rooms. It wasn't all terrible, though. As I got older, cleaning became a bit of a stress reliever for me. So, that was nice, I suppose. As Daela got older however, she became less and less safe. Word started to spread of a Gifted child who'd entertain crowds with food and flight. People from other towns would come to the inn just to see her, then those people would tell others about Daela and then they'd come to the inn. Thankfully, the travelers we dealt were good people. But that didn't mean there weren't any bad people listening. Soon, King Adonis heard of this Gifted girl and sent some of his Dai Li agents to go and take her away to the Capitol in the night. It was probably some of his best agents too since we didn't hear a sound when they came and got her until that morning when I awoke with a start to the sound of my mother crying out my sister's name as she ran all throughout our house looking for her. My dad and I soon joined in and when we couldn't find her in our own house, we went outside to look. Some of the townsfolk joined in on our search but none of us were successful.
It was almost evening, guards and some rangers had already been sent out into the wilderness in search for the girl. Others that had been helping look for Daela had given up hours ago. My parents eventually broke down, crying as we made our way back to our home. I was walking farther ahead of them as I was trying to hold back tears and didn't want them to see me in that state. When I finally made it back to our home and took my first step through the door, I heard an odd crunching sound and felt something strange under my foot. Looking down, I saw a crumpled piece of paper. I bent down to pick it up to read it, feeling puzzled. What I saw made my jaw drop. I immediately ran out to my parents who were still sobbing and holding each other in their arms as they made their way back and showed them the letter. They had the same reaction as I did. The paper said in elegant handwriting


"Greetings from the great King Adonis

Your daughter has become an official and permanent member of the king's court. You are not allowed to have any contact with her from now on. Any form of retaliation to this will be met with severe punishment.
Thank you for cooperation and for your Gift.

KA"


Next to the king's initials was the symbol of the Dai Li. This news and the grief and pain it caused my parents is what got me to join the Clann.

One night while at the inn (which rarely had a crowd now that Daela was gone), I heard a couple of rangers talking about this mysterious group that resided deep in the southern wood that was committing small acts of rebellion against Adonis by saving and housing Gifted. They said they heard whispers of this group calling themselves the "Clann" and I knew from then on I had to find some way to contact them. I couldn't just leave my family behind, though. I also couldn't just venture out into unknown territory by myself, especially since I didn't know exactly where to go. So I did what any eleven-year-old boy would do. I wrote a letter to the Clann and had an owl deliver it to them, wherever they were.
Days, weeks, and soon months past by and I didn't receive a reply from them. I was beginning to think the Clann didn't even exist until one day, a mysterious woman stopped by the inn. That woman was Talia. She spoke with my parents and I about the note I sent and about Daela. I wanted to join the Clann to help them in their fight against Adonis. My parents thought it a terrible idea. They didn't want to lose me too. I was eventually able to convince them. Talia promised them the Clann was going to train me well so my parents wouldn't have to worry too much about my safety. She even said she'd personally find people to help my mother and father at the inn while I was away. Later on that night. After I had finished packing (and my mom and dad stopped hugging me and telling me to be careful), I was riding with Talia on the back of her horse, on our way to the Clann base. From then on out, my life had changed for the better… I think.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~

That morning, I woke up feeling more tired than I usually feel, as well as extra sore. Most likely from previous night's battle. After I stretched some and got ready, I headed out to the dining hall for breakfast. There weren't many Clann agents awake at this time. Just Talia, Nyna, two of the Elders, Ansell, and a few other Clann agents I didn't know very well. After I got my food, I went and sat down next to Ansell.
"Morning, sleepyhead." He said without even looking at me. Ansell seemed tense and was eating his food rather quickly, all of which was unlike him.
"Good morning," I replied "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine." Ansell said shortly "Just trying to scarf this all down so I can leave soon."
"Leave?" I repeated "You're leaving already?" "Yeah, Ez. I need to get back to the Dai Li asap. They're probably already planning their next attack, which is sure to be a big one. I need to be at the base so I can learn everything I can about it for yours and the Clann's sake."
"Right… of course…" I trailed off. I was really hoping to be able to spend more time with Ansell. But I should've known now was not the time for that. Until this war is over, any kind of fun has to be put on hold indefinitely.
Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw Ansell look at me with a puzzled yet concerned frown "What about you? How are you doing?"
I hesitated for a moment, "I'm… fine, also."
"You know, I thought Tori was a bad liar but I forgot that you're even worse." Ansell said with a small grin, as he playfully elbowed me in the side. "Speaking of, sorry about taking your dream girl away, pal."
"I told you, Ansell, it's fine. Tori wasn't the one for me. I've moved on. No need to be sorry."
"Alright, if you say you've moved on then I believe you. But for real, what's bothering you?"
"It's nothing, I swear."
"Ezra, for all the long years that we've known each other you've never once kept a secret from me. I don't think you’re about to start now. You can trust me. Just tell me what's going on."
"It's just the same old thing, Ans, I-" "Really?" Ansell sighed "Ez, how many times am I gonna have to tell you, being-" "You don't need to tell me again, Ansell." "Are you sure, Ezra? Cause you don't seem to be remembering."
"I am remembering… a little too much."
Silence fell over us as a look of realization fell over Ansell's face. "Oh… you were thinking about Daela again."
I nodded "Yeah, last night my brain just decided to take a trip down memory lane after it had already beat me up a bit."
Ansell took a few moments to respond "I'm really sorry, buddy." He said, patting me on the shoulder.
"It's fine, Ans. I'm used to it all."
"You shouldn't have to get used to it, though." Ansell said
"I know, but I have."

We sat in silence for a little bit as we continued to eat our food. As I looked around, I saw that more Clann members had started to fill in the dining hall, some I knew well, others not so much. That's when I realized that a very special Clann agent was not sitting with us like she usually does.
"Hey, have you seen Hanna?" I asked. "You know what," Ansell began, looking around "I haven't. That's odd. She's usually awake and eating with us at this time."
"Yeah… maybe we should go check on her?"
"That sounds like a good idea." Ansell said, as the two of us then stood up from our chairs and left the room, heading towards Hanna's quarters.
"I hope she's okay." Ansell said in a worry-laced tone
"As do I."

When we finally arrived at Hanna's room, Ansell and I tried to decide which one of us should knock first. We eventually decided it should be me since it was my idea to come here in the first place. "Hanna? It's me, Ezra. I'm here with Ansell. We're just here to see if you doing alright." I said through the door after I had knocked. We waited a few moments but did not get a reply. Ansell and I looked at each other, confused. I turned to knock on the door again. "Um, Hanna? Are you in there?". Still no response. I looked back at Ansell again who shrugged. "Maybe try opening it?" Ansell suggested. "Hanna always keeps her door locked, though." I said. "It's worth a shot." Ansell said. I sighed "I guess you're right." and, to my own surprise, it worked! I opened the door, expecting to see Hanna sleeping but instead we saw an empty room.
"She isn't here." I said, in complete shock
"Yeah, that's obvious, Ez." Ansell said, dryly but you could still hear how worried he was.
"Where else could she be?"
"Umm… doesn't she conduct all of her experiments in that room across from the training hall? Maybe she's there?" "You're right! Let's go check!" I said.

Unfortunately, when we arrived there, Hanna was still nowhere to be found. We ended up checking almost every room in the base and still no Hanna.

"This is bad." I said as Ansell and I were now running to Nyna's office, "Very bad."
"You can say that again, pal." Ansell said
I did a double take "Oh, I said 'this is bad. Ve-' "
"I wasn't asking you to repeat yourself, Ez."
"Oh, sorry."
"Don't apologize."
"Sorry."
"Ezra!"
"So-I mean, okay!"

Once we finally were coming up on Talia's office, Ansell and I just burst through the doors (feeling very thankful they weren't locked), seeing Nyna talking with Talia and the Elders.
"Hanna is gone!!!" I shouted at we entered, a feeling of dread that had already begun to form inside me getting stronger as those words escaped from my mouth and tons of thoughts and worries raced through my head, all about Hanna and where she could possibly be and what she could be going through.

Oh, Hanna. I really hope you're okay.


Author's Note: It's almost 5am so I'll check for typos another time, haha. Night, are you okay with how I handled Ansell?
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Last edited by Alexa Diamondflower; 06-15-2019 at 06:32 AM. Reason: took out "but I did" after "make her feel uncomfortable" cause it doesn't sound right
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  #799  
Old 01-05-2019, 07:27 AM
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Great post Alexa!

I will try to post soon! Sorry I haven't been online, things have been sooo crazy lately!
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Old 01-08-2019, 05:53 AM
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Great post Alexa! Don't worry, I like what you added to Ezra and Ansell's friendship.

Hope everyone's having a fantastic New Year so far!



The sun had made its slow way over the horizon, bathing the infirmary in shades of red and gold. The other agents would be waking up soon, and this place would once again be bustling once again, all through the winding hallways and small, cozy rooms, the buildings naturally camouflaged into the surrounding wilderness. They'd be filling up the place with the familiar sounds of training, laughing and casual conversation. Though, considering the events of last night, this morning might be a bit lacking in the latter two.
Still, it was all the sights and sounds of home, the only one I'd ever known.

I reached over and gave Lyren a tight hug. And hopefully, she'll decide to make it her home, too. "It's going to be alright," I whispered.
"I know. Good luck," she said, before returning to her vigil by Finn's bedside. "And be careful."

In the dining hall, only a couple Elders were up and about, plus a few other agents I didn't know very well. I gave them a cheerful wave anyway, and they rolled their eyes but grinned back.
"I guess it really is true that old people never sleep," I said cheerily as I sat near the Elders. "They only pretend to when they don't want to talk to anyone."
"I am glad to see that the Dai Li attack and news of our possible impending doom are still not enough to wipe that infernal grin off your face, Agent Vaile," Elder Pierce snapped, with entirely far too much sarcasm for so early in the morning, in my personal opinion. I would've wondered who had spit in his coffee, if I didn't know that this was the most cheerful version of Elder Pierce it was possible to get. The guy would only get grumpier and less well-humored as the day went on. He would've really gotten along well with Galy and Ivan - if not for that whole pesky "mortal enemies" thing and all.
Honestly, no matter how dismal the situation, I didn't see the point in sitting around sulking about it - what would that accomplish, except for making us as dour and miserly as the Dai Li?

Talia walked in not long after, in deep conversation with Nyna, though she did give me a reassuring smile. Meaning her conversation with Haven must have gone well. I felt relieved, although more than a little guilty that I hadn't been able to help. I'd make it up to her though, no matter what.
I had been hoping to talk to Talia this morning, but maybe this was for the best. I hated goodbyes.
After a few minutes, Ezra came in as well, looking tired and out of sorts. As he walked to the kitchen to get some food, strangely enough, I found myself feeling oddly melancholy. The longer I spent back here, the harder it was to leave, and I smiled at the irony. There was a time that I had wanted nothing more than to be done with these people.

And, another time, when I had nowhere to go and no one to turn to...

I tried to shake off the sudden despondent feeling as Ezra sat down next to me. "Morning, sleepyhead!"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"What?" Elder Solon was on his feet in a flash. "My niece is missing?"
"Where could she have gone?" Nyna exclaimed.
"Could... could she have gone after the Dai Li?" Ezra asked hesitantly.
"She did seem frustrated at the meeting," I mused.
Solon had gone white with shock. "I just - I can't believe she would - "
"Maybe she was just out on patrol, and was ambushed," Talia quickly suggested. "I'll send out teams to search the nearby area, and ask around the surrounding villages."

"I'm going back to the Dai Li today anyway. If they've captured a Clann agent, I'm sure there will be talk," I said grimly.
"I'll come with you," Ezra said determinedly. I looked at him in surprise. "Hanna was a part of our team," he said fiercely. "Even if I can't protect everyone, I need to at least try."
I put a comforting arm around his shoulder. "Thank you."
"Wait," a voice came from behind us. I turned to see Prince Nikko standing there.
For a moment, I wondered if he'd ask to join us. I knew we couldn't take him along, of course. It was highly likely to be a dangerous mission, definitely not the sort a barely-trained Gifted should be attending. Plus... I didn't know if he was ready to face his father again, after everything he'd seen and learned here.
Nikko hesitated, then handed us a folded letter. "If you see my mother, could you please give her this?"
I took it and smiled, folding it into my cloak. Of course. He'd want her to know he was safe. "Sure."
"And good luck," he added, though there was some trepidation in his expression. "Hanna was my friend too. I hope you bring her back safely."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was half a day's ride to the Capitol, and we had to travel carefully, in order to avoid notice by the regular patrols the King sent out. They were on high alert, not relaxed and lazy like the guards sometimes were. After the defeat last night, they knew better than to underestimate the Clann now.
By the time we arrived at Dai Li headquarters, it was nearly nightfall. I'd given Ezra a spare Dai Li uniform to wear. Hopefully no one would recognize him as a member of Talia's team, but just in case, he kept his hood up and was careful not to meet any agents in the eye.
The guard at the gate, a man named Brutus, gave a start when he recognized me. "Agent Vaile! We were not expecting you back so soon. And who is this?"
"Yes, well, the prince sent the two of us to fetch something that he apparently forgot to bring," I replied loftily, with a long-suffering sigh. "Honestly, I think His Royal Highness was just bored and wanted to order us around a bit for his own amusement." I wondered if he'd comment on my insolence. Likely not; I'd talked to Brutus many times, and tried frequently to get a reaction out of him, never to any avail.
"It is good that you have decided to return," Brutus continued, as if I hadn't said anything at all. "His Majesty has called an urgent meeting with his advisers and the high-ranking members of the Dai Li, to discuss the next course of action to be taken in regards to the Clann menace. As a member of Captain Darklighter's patrol, you really should consider attending."
Ezra and I exchanged a meaningful glance. This could definitely be information that would be valuable to the Clann.
"Where will this meeting be taking place?" I asked, doing a good job of seeming only mildly interested. The demeanor of a bored and disinterested guard, come to fetch something for a spoiled prince.
"In the war council room, in an hour's time," Brutus bowed again and ushered us inside.

In the grand hall, I stopped in my tracks as I heard a familiar voice, speaking softly enough to not be easily overheard.
"We caught her spying on us in the trees, the little sneak," Ivan was saying. "Not just a Clann agent, but a relative of one of their Elders. I'm sure she will be a useful prisoner to us."
"Where have you taken her?" Galadriel demanded. Surprisingly, she didn't sound as please as I would've expected.
"To the dungeon," Ivan replied. "Would you like me to - "
"No, I will let the King know. You're dismissed." she turned to walk away, but stopped in her tracks when she saw me standing there. Her already displeased expression turned even more sour. "What are you doing here, Agent Vaile?" she demanded.
"Oh, just back to make sure you don't suffer any more humiliating defeats," I said cheerfully. "I leave you alone for a few days and not only did you not capture any Gifted, but you somehow managed to make us into the laughingstock of all of Alagaesia! Seriously Galy, are you going to accidentally burn down the palace next time I'm away?"
Galadriel looked like she wanted nothing more than to murder me, then and there. Only the presence of the throng of other Dai Li agents just behind me seemed to stop her.
"But don't worry," I added. "I know that this is on short notice, so I forgive you for not having prepared a feast in my honor. I'd be happy to settle for a heartfelt speech about how much you've missed me."
Ivan glared at me in equal parts confusion and dislike. "We were not planning to throw a feast or prepare any speeches. Who do you think you are, anyway?"
I grinned. "Oh, Ivan. Never change."

"Enough!" Galadriel snapped. "Agent Vaile, if you continue speaking this way to your superiors, you will face the consequences. Now, you had better show up on time for the meeting. I guarantee the King will not look kindly upon interruptions." Though her face told me she'd rather prefer it if I showed up late and angered Adonis.
I saluted, giving her my most innocent, wide-eyed grin, before sauntering away to join Ezra.

"So, we have one hour to find Hanna," I said, abruptly serious again. "I highly doubt the King will do anything with her right now; he'll be too preoccupied with the meeting. So - "
Ezra was staring at me like I'd grown an extra head. "What?" I asked.
"Do you seriously talk to the captain of the Dai Li like that all the time?" he asked incredulously. "How has she not thrown you into the dungeon by now?"
I shrugged. "Oh, I have my ways. Now let's go find Hanna."

The dungeon wasn't exactly difficult to find, what with it being filled with sounds of tortured screaming and all. Okay, that wasn't true, but it was still the dankest, most dreary part of this whole miserable place.
There were guards stationed at the entrance, both on high alert. We approached them.
Ezra and I approached the guards. "We've been assigned to take the next shift," I told them, not looking into their faces and hoping they wouldn't suspect. "You're to go get ready for the King's meeting. Queen Iolanthe's orders." We'd spoken to the queen before coming down here, and she'd agreed to help however she could, after receiving Nikko's letter.
To my relief, the guards didn't question it, merely handed us the keys and left.

However, as we entered the great metal gate walked down the dank, mildewed steps, we didn't run into anyone else - either royal guards or Dai Li agents. No patrols, or servants bringing food to the prisoners, or more jail guards. The entire dungeon was eerily quiet, except for the shuffling sounds of prisoners moving around in their cells.
Finally, Ezra turned to me. "Is it just me, or did all of this seem a little... easy?"
I'd been thinking the same thing. "We barely came across any resistance on the way. It doesn't make sense for the Dai Li to be so relaxed with their prisoners, especially if one of them is a Clann agent."
"Think it's a trap?" he asked.
"We'd better be careful," I whispered back.
We stepped cautiously into the dungeon. I wasn't sure what I was expecting, but we walked past rows of cells, most of them filled, but nothing jumped out at us. No agents, Gifted, or booby traps of any kind. We split up to cover more area, and I tried to look natural, patrolling up and down the rows, looking into each cell.
"Over here!" Ezra hissed.

I hurried over to see a familiar face pressed against the bars. Hanna stared up at us with a mixture of relief and fear. There were a couple scratches on her arms and face, but she looked mostly unharmed.
"You guys came!" she whispered. "But... how did you figure out where I was so quickly?"
I shrugged. "Oh, you know. There being exactly one group of villainous kidnappers around these parts and all. It wasn't hard to narrow it down."
Though I kept my voice low but upbeat, there was a strange chill creeping up the back of my neck. I couldn't shake off the feeling that... we were being watched. I slowly turned.
The other prisoners weren't paying us much attention - regular Dai Li patrols were nothing to write home about, after all. Some continued to shuffled around their cells, or talked to themselves, or looked up with mild interest at my and Ezra's passing. Most merely sat in the darkness, not paying us any attention.
There was nothing at all suspicious-looking about any of them, and yet - I couldn't shake off the sense of foreboding.
"Let's get out of here quickly," I whispered. Then I raised my voice, so all the other prisoners could hear. "The King wants you for questioning now! Hurry up and get her out of here."
I wasn't sure if that was even necessary, but just in case anyone here would try and raise an alarm to the Dai Li, I didn't want to take any chances. They would notice something was wrong soon enough, but hopefully we'd be long gone by then. We couldn't afford to miss the King's meeting, though - we had to know his next plan of attack.

I tossed Ezra the keys, then went back to searching the dungeon, glancing into row by row until I saw a familiar figure, curled up in the far corner of a cell.
She was the spitting image of her older sister, only her dark hair was tangled and her clothes were little more than rags.
"Rhea?" I whispered.
She instantly became alert, crouching in a defensive position. "Who are you?" she demanded. "How do you know my name?"
"I'm a friend of Haven's," I said gently, holding out a hand to her.
"Haven?" At her sister's name, her face crumpled, vulnerability showing through the mask of toughness she tried to put up. "Where is she?"
"Somewhere safe. We're here to take you to her," I said, pulling out something from an inside pocket. Haven's necklace, distinctly something made in Calian, and Rhea recognized it instantly. The fear and mistrust faded away, and she ran over, cradling the necklace in her small hands.
"Are your parents here too?" I asked.
Rhea shook her head, her eyes bright with tears. "They're not in the Capitol. I don't know where they were brought. I was only taken here because they thought I might make a good serving girl. The man who took us - he threw me in here as punishment. I don't know what they're going to do with me."
"Don't worry. We'll get you out of here," I promised. Ezra had gotten Hanna free, and they came over now.

"Well, I hope you've both learned your lesson," I called out loudly. The two of us made a show of restraining the two girls, then we all marched out of the dungeon.
We left Rhea hidden in a supply closet a safe distance away from the King's council room, with the promise that we'd come back for her immediately after. I wish we didn't have to leave her in this horrid place, after all she'd been through, but it would have looked too suspicious to bring a child with us. She tried hard to look brave, though she couldn't entirely keep the fear out of her big blue eyes.
I tried to ignore the twinge of guilt - it wasn't like we had a choice. Whatever the King had to say to his inner council, it was sure to concern the Clann and our Gifted - including her sister, whom I'd sworn I'd bring her back to.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I believe you are all aware of the reason we are gathered here today," King Adonis began the meeting, raising his head to glare at everyone in the room. His piercing scowl made it seem as if he held all of us personally responsible for the defeat at Clann headquarters.
"Such an outcome is unacceptable. The Clann is our biggest obstacle in containing and eliminating the Gifted menace in our nation, and we must be rid of them for the good of all of Alagaesia. We underestimated them once. It will not happen again." He leveled another glare at the ranks of Dai Li agents, several of which were visibly cowering.
"My advisors and I have come to a decision. We are in talks with Queen Adalia about the possibility of a treaty with her people. I will personally select a group of elite agents to take part in a parley mission to Noorwind. If all goes well, she may be persuaded to join our noble cause and combine her army with ours, in order to wipe out the remaining threat in both of our nations."

I froze. Noorwind was the country just north of Alagaesia, right across the sea. I'd been to the border of our two countries once before, a place of tall, jagged cliffs overlooking the crashing waves. It was less than a day's journey by ship, though our nations had rarely crossed paths. I knew that Queen Adalia and her people were deathly afraid of the Gifted, who were far less common in their country than ours. Our relationship had always been chilly at best, with the people of Noorwind having long since closed off their borders in fear of the "Gifted plague".
If Adonis had convinced them to fight alongside him... That didn't bode well for the Clann. It was uncertain enough if we could defend against both his Gifted army and trained agents, and the army of Noorwind was known for its might and tenacity.

There were murmurs of approval among the ranks of the Dai Li. Most of them looked pleased at the prospect of an alliance with Noorwind. I could already hear excited speculation about who would be chosen to speak with the queen.
King Adonis held up a hand for silence. "Our next step should be to gather as much information as we can on the Clann, before we take further action. We will not underestimate their abilities again." There was a note of reproach in his voice, and I knew there would be consequences for the previous night's defeat. I saw several Dai Li agents cringe in fear, though they tried to hide their reactions.
"We will require information about their numbers, strength, and any alliances they may have, from reliable sources," the king continued, but stopped suddenly.

"Oh, I don't know if that will even be a problem," a new voice spoke up. Everyone spun around to see a figure, dressed all in black, had suddenly appeared in the middle of the room. The only thing I could see of him was a pale, pointed chin peering out from under his hooded cloak.
There had been no sign of entry, no sound of any of the heavy oaken doors along the side of the room having just opened. And yet here he was, impossibly.

"In fact, I don't think we have to look very far at all," the man continued, in an almost teasing voice. A cat, playing with its prey, building up tension and anticipation until at last, it decided to strike. "Sometimes the thing you're looking for might have been hidden in plain sight, right under your nose, all along."
Though I couldn't see his face, I knew there was a smile playing on the man's lips now. "Isn't that right... Ansell Vaile?"

Everyone in the room froze. For a split second, it felt as if the world had stood still, as what the man was insinuating became immediately clear.
King Adonis shot to his feet, his face a mask of fury and disbelief. His thunderous gaze found me in the crowd. "What do you have to say about this, Agent Vaile?"
For a moment, I considered lying, but... One look at the hooded man, and I knew I'd never be able to bluff my way past him. I couldn't explain it, but I knew we were dealing with a very different type of threat now, and he would not be so easily fooled.
Hanna was a trap, after all. Was it one of the prisoners? Some hidden trap in the dungeon itself? It didn't matter. This man knew. Somehow, he knew.

I swept my long, trailing Dai Li cloak behind me, letting it fall to the ground with a dramatic flourish. Then I gave a single, sweeping bow, a wicked grin spreading across my face. "Congratulations, you caught me. It's been an honor, really, getting the chance to make a fool out of our glorious King's most elite forces."

As I straightened again, I met eyes with Ezra and Hanna from across the room. Then I inclined my head, a motion so slight it was almost imperceptible, and nodded toward the King and Queen, standing not far from both of them.
They understood instantly. Immediately, Hanna leaped forward and whipped out one of her daggers from where it had been hidden in her sleeve. She held it to Iolanthe's throat. "Don't move!"
Almost at the same time, Ezra let loose a throwing knife, aimed right at the King. It barely missed his face as Ivan pulled him out of the way.
The room exploded into shouts, screams, and general pandemonium. The guards and Dai Li ran every which way, confused about which threat to neutralize first.
"Capture the traitor!"
"Save the Queen!"
"Protect the King!"

I took the opportunity to take down the two closest Dai Li agents, shoving them into the paths of the others who were rapidly closing in. Several stumbled, losing their balance in the tangle of guards and general confusion. I spun around and ran for the closest door. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Hanna turning to flee as well, with an apologetic look at Iolanthe. The queen, doing an excellent job of appearing terror-stricken, collapsed into the first of the rushing hoard of agents, blocking their path. I couldn't see Ezra in my line of sight, and could only hope he'd made it out too.
But as I fled the room, I could feel a familiar pair of eyes burning into my back. Oh dear, Galy is not going to let me get away with this one. Maybe I shouldn't have made that last comment about her being the laughingstock of the whole country...
Then again, she'd been itching for an excuse to kill me for the past year, so I supposed it wouldn't have made much difference anyway.

I shoved past the guards just outside the door, who had turned to see what the clamor was all about. We had managed to catch most of the Dai Li off guard. The shock of knowing there had been at least one double agent among them, combined with the uncertainty of how many of us were in that crowd, gave us a split second's advantage. Even so, I knew we had a couple minutes' lead on them at best.
When I reached the supply closet where we'd left Rhea, Ezra was already there.
"What's happening?" Rhea's eyes were huge and terrified.
"We have to get out of here, now!" I pulled her along as Hanna appeared behind us. The shouts and heavy footsteps of the Dai Li came from the hallway, growing closer.

We ran as fast as we could through the twisting halls. I stopped at a particular suit of armor, feeling for the secret lever behind him. I cursed as I felt it, stiff and immovable. It would have led to one of the secret tunnels underneath the Dai Li stronghold, but now it was blocked off. There was no time to try and figure out how they'd sealed it.
"If only I was able to use telekinesis," Ezra gasped, seemingly almost to himself. "Or shapeshift, or anything useful..."
I put a hand on his arm. "You're not helpless," I whispered fiercely, hating it when my friend's thoughts turned in that direction again. "We're going to make it out, Ez. You have to believe in yourself."
They would've had the front entrance secured too by now, swarming with the Dai Li's elite forces. All that was left was to hopefully make it out of the back of the castle and into the forest behind it. In the dense woods, it would be easy to hide and get away.
If we could find a way out before they caught up to us.
"This way!" I led the others down another series of hallways, then around a corner. We all stopped short at the sight of a single figure, dressed in the black and red uniform of the Dai Li, up ahead.

The sounds of pounding footsteps behind us grew louder as the figure turned, and I met a familiar pair of dark-blue eyes, a scar across the left one.

I froze. No. It couldn't be...

It was Tori.

(I wrote this all in a bit of a rush while I was in a writing mood, so sorry if it wasn't my best work. You guys can feel free to ask for any changes! Alexa, Glory, let me know if I didn't control your characters right.)
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Old 01-08-2019, 07:11 AM
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I love it Night!!! Looks great everyone!! I promise I will post as soon as I can!
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Old 01-09-2019, 06:59 AM
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I loved it as well, Night! Your rushed writing is just as great as your "non-rushed" writing. I think you handled Ezra really well!

I'll try to post soon too, probably for Tori. Right now I'm writing something for C:U.
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I loved both your posts, Night Wish and Alexa! Night, you did a great job with my characters too.

I'll post soon! Sorry it's been so long since my last one.
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Aww, thank you so much guys! I'm glad you're okay with how your characters were handled.

Alexa, I'm going to try and post for C:U next as well! Sorry I haven't done so yet, but unfortunately I forgot most of what I'd planned for Aura after all this time...
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I glared at Ivan through the bars of my cell, fists clenched. "So, this is what you've been doing since you left?" I stared at the rows and rows of other prisoners. How many of them were actual criminals, and how many were innocent Gifted? Or their family members who had been captured, like Haven's sister?
Ivan snorted. "Oh, don't look at them like that. Each and every one of these people is a known traitor to the King. You're so determined to paint us as the bad guys, Hanna. Have you ever thought about what your people have done?"
I shook the bars that separated us. "We're not the ones taking others from their homes and locking them up," I spat.
Ivan glanced at the other Dai Li agents behind him. "Leave us." They bowed and left the dungeon.

He turned back to me. "The King is merciful enough as it is, allowing those abominations to become his own personal army. It's a great honor to serve him, and more than they deserve. And don't act like these people are innocents we dragged off the streets. We only capture those who have been known to hide the Gifted from us, or are actively helping the Clann - traitors like you."
I shook my head at the hypocrisy of it all. "You're a Gifted. And you were part of the Clann, as well." Despite my best efforts, I couldn't keep the anger out of my voice. "I knew you abandoned us, but to come crawling straight to this place?"
I still remembered the day he'd left. How he'd been so scornful, telling Nyna and the Elders straight to their faces that they were fools. To treat the Gifted like family, and their abilities as natural and wonderful instead of the cursed abomination that they were. Despite that, they'd still tried to convince him to stay, and to change his mind about his powers. I had tried.
Lesson learned. I wouldn't be so easy to trust again, especially a stranger.

Ivan glanced around quickly to make sure nobody could overhear, and lowered his voice to an angry hiss. "I wouldn't expect you to understand. More than anyone else, you grew up on the Clann's beliefs. They've been drilled into you too much for you to see the truth now."
"Then why did you try to convince me to leave with you?" I demanded. Because he had, that day. I had cried and begged him to take back everything he'd said, but he had left me there. Alone.
Something passed over his face. It looked almost like regret. "Because you were - I still had some hope for you, back then." He sighed. "I didn't want to have to do this, Hanna. Of everyone there, you were the only one I'd once considered a friend."
I turned my back on him. "I could never be friends with someone like you."
There was a pause. I refused to turn back around and look at him, to see what he was thinking.
"We've both chosen our sides," he said finally. "If you refuse to see the truth, there's nothing I can do for you now."
"I won't tell you anything," I snarled. "No matter what you do to me."
"We'll see about that," he replied.
____________________________________

I pressed against the bars, staring up with shock and relief at Ansell and Ezra. "You guys came! But... how did you figure out where I was so quickly?"
I'd thought nobody would have started becoming suspicious yet. It had been less than a day. Despite my words to Ivan, I really wasn't sure if I could hold up to the King's questioning. What if I did reveal some secret information and betray the Clann?
Ansell shrugged. "Oh, you know. There being exactly one group of villainous kidnappers around these parts and all. It wasn't hard to narrow it down." Though his voice was as upbeat as ever, he seemed to be worried about something.

"Let's get out of here quickly," Ansell said, keeping his voice low. Then he raised it, so all the other prisoners could hear. "The King wants you for questioning now! Hurry up and get her out of here."
Ezra took the keys and quickly unlocked my cell.
"Thank you," I whispered, shaking with relief. "I - I'm so sorry to have caused so much trouble. My uncle was right."
"It's okay. And you can tell him yourself, when we get back," Ezra said reassuringly. "But first, the King has called a meeting to discuss what to do about the Clann following their defeat. We're going to sneak in."
I nodded in agreement. "We need to know what he has planned." Secretly, I felt a small rush of relief. Maybe we'd learn something useful while we were here, and some good might come out of me having caused this whole mess by behaving so stupidly.

Ansell came to join us a few moments later, accompanied by a girl who looked like a younger version of Haven. It must be her sister, Rhea! I remembered how upset Haven had been last night. I gave Rhea a kind smile, relieved that we'd be able to get her out of this awful place. How long has the poor girl been trapped here?
We had to leave her hidden in a supply closet, however, when we snuck into the meeting. Bringing a child along would've been to suspicious.
To my relief, no one questioned who Ezra and I were when we came in behind Ansell. The two of us found a spot not too far from the King and Queen, while Ansell stood with the other Dai Li agents on his team. I kept my hood up, obscuring my face, and kept my eyes cast downward, hoping no one would recognize me. Besides the agents on Ivan's team, none of them had seen me yet. I was careful to stand just out of Ivan's direct line of sight.

"I believe you are all aware of the reason we are gathered here today," King Adonis began the meeting, raising his head to glare at everyone in the room. His piercing scowl made it seem as if he held all of us personally responsible for the defeat at Clann headquarters.
"Such an outcome is unacceptable. The Clann is our biggest obstacle in containing and eliminating the Gifted menace in our nation, and we must be rid of them for the good of all of Alagaesia. We underestimated them once. It will not happen again." He leveled another glare at the ranks of Dai Li agents, several of which were visibly cowering.
"My advisors and I have come to a decision. We are in talks with Queen Adalia about the possibility of a treaty with her people. I will personally select a group of elite agents to take part in a parley mission to Noorwind. If all goes well, she may be persuaded to join our noble cause and combine her army with ours, in order to wipe out the remaining threat in both of our nations."
A rush of fear flooded through me. I didn't know too much about Noorwind, which was the country just north of Alagaesia, right across the sea. All I knew was that the queen of Noorwind and her people were deathly afraid of the Gifted, who were far less common in their country than ours. Our relationship had always been chilly at best, with the them having long since closed off their borders in fear of the "Gifted plague".
If Adonis had convinced them to fight alongside him... That didn't bode well for the Clann. It was uncertain enough if we could defend against both his Gifted army and trained agents, and now a whole other army from another country?
There were murmurs of approval among the ranks of the Dai Li. Most of them looked pleased at the prospect of an alliance with Noorwind. I could already hear excited speculation about who would be chosen to speak with the queen.
King Adonis held up a hand for silence. "Our next step should be to gather as much information as we can on the Clann, before we take further action. We will not underestimate their abilities again." There was a note of reproach in his voice, and I knew there would be consequences for the previous night's defeat. I saw several Dai Li agents cringe in fear, though they tried to hide their reactions.
"We will require information about their numbers, strength, and any alliances they may have, from reliable sources," the king continued, but stopped suddenly.

"Oh, I don't know if that will even be a problem," a new voice spoke up. Everyone spun around to see a figure, dressed all in black, had suddenly appeared in the middle of the room. The only thing I could see of him was a pale, pointed chin peering out from under his hooded cloak.
There had been no sign of entry, no sound of any of the heavy oaken doors along the side of the room having just opened. And yet here he was, impossibly.

"In fact, I don't think we have to look very far at all," the man continued, in an almost teasing voice. A cat, playing with its prey, building up tension and anticipation until at last, it decided to strike. "Sometimes the thing you're looking for might have been hidden in plain sight, right under your nose, all along."
Though I couldn't see his face, I knew there was a smile playing on the man's lips now. "Isn't that right... Ansell Vaile?"

Everyone in the room froze. For a split second, it felt as if the world had stood still, as what the man was insinuating became immediately clear.
King Adonis shot to his feet, his face a mask of fury and disbelief. His thunderous gaze found Ansell in the crowd. "What do you have to say about this, Agent Vaile?"
For a moment, it looked as though Ansell might try bluffing. But there was something about this man... he would not be an easy opponent to fool. Power and a quiet menace seemed to radiate from him. His accusation hadn't been a questioning one, he spoke like someone who knew for certain and was merely playing with everyone. How had he known?
Guilt shot through me. Was I a trap, to find the spy within the Dai Li? Is this all my fault?

Ansell swept his long, trailing Dai Li cloak behind him, letting it fall to the ground with a dramatic flourish. Then he gave a single, sweeping bow, a wicked grin spreading across his face. "Congratulations, you caught me. It's been an honor, really, getting the chance to make a fool out of our glorious King's most elite forces."
Despite the horror flooding through me, I felt a rush of both amusement and exasperation. Leave it to Ansell to turn a moment like this into a joke.

As he straightened again, he met eyes with Ezra and me from across the room. Then he inclined his head, a motion so slight it was almost imperceptible, and nodded toward the King and Queen, standing not far from both of us.
We understood instantly. Without hesitation, I leaped forward and whipped out one of my daggers from where it had been hidden in my sleeve. I held it to Iolanthe's throat. "Don't move!" I yelled to the other Dai Li. Softly, almost silently, I whispered in the queen's ear. "Sorry! Promise I won't actually hurt you."
Almost at the same time, Ezra let loose a throwing knife, aimed right at the King. It barely missed his face as Ivan pulled him out of the way. Ivan's eyes met mine, his filled with rage and disbelief.
The room exploded into shouts, screams, and general pandemonium. The guards and Dai Li ran every which way, confused about which threat to neutralize first.
"Capture the traitor!"
"Save the Queen!"
"Protect the King!"

I saw Ansell take down the two Dai Li closest to him and shove them into the confused crowd, before fleeing the room. Ezra, too, soon fought his way past the guards at the door and slipped out before the Dai Li had the chance to reorganize. I let go of the queen, who pretended to collapse into the hoard of oncoming guards, blocking their path. I felt a rush of gratitude towards her as I fled the room as well.
We had the advantage of surprise, as well as the fact that they didn't know how many of us there were. There was enough confusion in the room that we should have a couple minutes' lead on them. Still, I could already hear heavy footsteps behind me, and they would catch up soon enough if we didn't find an escape route.
I met back up with Ansell, Ezra and Rhea at the supply closet.
We ran as fast as we could through the twisting halls. We stopped at a particular suit of armor, as Ansell felt for the secret lever behind him. Unfortunately, it didn't budge. There was no time to try and figure out how they'd sealed the passage, but it was almost certain they would've had the front entrance secured too by now, swarming with the Dai Li's elite forces. All that was left was to hopefully make it out of the back of the castle and into the forest behind it. In the dense woods, it would be easy to hide and get away.
If we could find a way out before they caught up to us.
"This way!" Ansell led us down another series of hallways, then around a corner, being the only one who knew this place well. We all stopped short at the sight of a single figure, dressed in the black and red uniform of the Dai Li, up ahead.

The figure turned... to reveal a girl my age with red-orange hair and dark blue eyes. Tori?! No, it couldn't be!
As rude and abrasive as she'd been, I couldn't believe it. That she'd betray us and join the people dedicated to capturing all the Gifted - people like her - and enslaving them. The people who'd committed countless atrocities. I felt a rush of anger. She's just like Ivan.
The pounding footsteps of the Dai Li were growing louder. In a minute or two, they would catch up to us, and it would all be over. What are we going to do? How will we get out of this one?

(I've got a post for Stacia in the works too - I haven't posted for her in forever - but I wanted to get this out first.)
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  #806  
Old 01-17-2019, 09:08 AM
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Great posts, Glory and Night! I'll try to get one up and written for Tori soon.
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Old 01-19-2019, 06:41 PM
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Great posts everyone!!

Once Tori helps them get out of the castle, I was thinking maybe they get pursued by all the Dai Li. Then maybe Ren and Talia and some other Clann agents can help them get home? Because Ren did tell Haven that she wants to help rescue her family, and this is important for Ren to be able to help put families back together for once, since she tore so many apart.

Is that ok with you guys?
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Old 01-20-2019, 05:25 AM
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I'm cool with that, Liri.
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Old 01-20-2019, 11:45 PM
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Sounds great to me, Liri!
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Old 02-13-2019, 07:01 AM
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Sorry for being so inactive. I've been very busy on the Mainland. I've been assistant directing a show and haven't had much time to write. This is tech week so I'll be extra busy. We also open this Friday and have eight shows to get through (four this weekend, four next weekend). After that I should have more time to write.
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